WORLD JOURNEYS IN HACKTREKS
Murray Walker in Thailand and Taiwan
met this guy from Sweden who was slowly getting hammered on vodka
I'm in the frantic
and frenetic city of Bangkok. I arrived yesterday and was immediately
hurled into the spiral of chaos that renders one dazed and confused. It's
like watching an imax film, total sensory overload. At this present moment
I'm still nursing the abuse received last night.
I met this Scottish guy who knows all the good places. He's a bad influence
and I'm doing all I can to thwart his insistence that I indulge in the
local 'cultural' antics. "Not gonna happen I say, there's just no
way!" I'm a fighter.
I'm shipping up north tomorrow. There's this cool town, Chiang Mai. I'll
do the trekking and rafting thing interspersed with a Thai cooking and
massage course. I will also attend some walk-in Thai boxing sessions.
I'm sporting a delightful fold of loose skin under my chin that has to
be dealt with. When I've done all that's available in this town I'll boat
down to Koh Tao to do my rescue diver scuba course. The pristine beaches
are calling my name clarion and I must respond. I'm scared that if I visit
them first I'll not go anywhere else. When I get into chill mode I'm like
a dead sumo wrestler.
I'm expected to start teaching English in Taipei mid-March. There may
be a reason to postpone this somewhat as I may have another little sojourn
planned, but more about that another time.
I'm back in the safe and quiet walls of the net cafe. I love this place.
It's my portal to the real world.
22 hours of Thai massage class, 6 hours of Thai cooking class, 11 hours
of Thai boxing and a 3 day trek left me feeling me part Thai. Chiang Mai
is a wonderful place to try new things. Koh Tao to do the diving thing
followed. Did a couple of fun dives and then started my rescue course.
Got an ear infection, but fortunately still managed to finish everything.
I couldn't do any diving afterwards though, which was a shame.
I arrived in Koh Samui last night. I was supposed to link up with a buddy
that I met in Bangkok, but he didn't read his email so no red carpet on
arrival. I wandered the streets in search of shelter for about 2 hours.
Everything is so built-up on this side of the island that it's hard to
find reasonably priced bungalows. I went a little further afield and succeeded.
I was thinking about crashing early, but my craving for adventure would
not allow such slug-like activity. So, off to the net cafe I went (I know,
a real Indiana Jones adventure in the making!) where I met this guy from
Sweden who was slowly getting hammered on vodka orange. We sauntered along
the main street until we stumbled across the 'Green Mango' nightclub.
It's big and it has two dance sections, the one side blaring techno and
the other more conventional Top 40 stuff. We hung cool by the pool tables
and were such treated to a cacophony of the two. This Swedish dude, Bjorn,
is quite the shrewd pool player. He's also (if only in his own head) the
smoothest ladies man in Thailand. He had his sites set on some action
and would not sway even at the coldest rejection. I pictured a 4 seater
Cessna in Iraqi colours flying above a US destroyer. He kept getting shot-down
and each time he'd bounce right back. Quite admirable on some level, maybe
stupid on another. At 3am we found ourselves at 7-11 buying more booze
for a supposed beach party with some girls he managed to befriend. He
was chasing them through the aisles with the intention of smooching either
of them. Very flattering for both I imagine. I didn't see any future in
the evening so I meandered along the beach back to my bungalow with a
certain face firmly imprinted on my mind.
The Thailand experience has sadly come to an end. I spent the last two
weeks island hopping. Koh Tao (where I did the diving) to Koh Samui (met
up with my mate) to Kho Phangan (just for full moon) to Krabi (saw 'James
Bond Island,' used as Francis Scaramanga's hermetic hideaway in 'The man
with the golden gun') to Phi Phi (saw 'The Beach' beach) and then back
up to Bangkok. After all that I'm entirely beached and partied out. Every
fibre of my being is crying out in protest and begging me to just chill
for a bit. I'm pretty good at doing that too.
I finally did the 'Pat Phong' excursion while I spent the last two nights
in Bangkok. It's the red light zone for those who haven't made it this
far yet. Not much to say about it really. I guess sad and dirty would
sum it up. I befriended a Swiss guy who was also leaving the following
day and we made the trip together - there was no way I was going on my
own. Sitting in a club drinking a 300 baht (US$7.50) beer and watching
young girls performing all kinds of sordid sexual antics filled me with
a feeling of revolt. If I met one of these girls in a coffee shop and
we ended up chatting together, how would she feel about what she does?
Would she squirm at the question or would she answer with pride? I don't
know. Western morality is just that, western. I had three sips of my beer
and waited outside for my friend. I feel shit for supporting their business.
At this moment I'm sitting in a Taiwanese net cafe. Windows is navigated
in Chinese and for the life of me I can't locate messenger. My quest to
fill my stomach and buy an alarm click took a hefty chunk of the morning.
With phrase book firmly clenched in a sweaty hand like a martyr's bible
as the stake is lit, I meandered the streets inaudibly blaring 'tourist.'
I'm desperately trying to reactivate the language gene, it seems a little
reticent at this point. It is exciting to be in a place that seems so
foreign. It's a safe place so that makes it comforting, but still confusing.
More coming from Murray on his adventures in Peru and Bolivia.
© Murray Walker April 2003
Journeys in Hacktreks
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